Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Good news and bad news. The good news is we received a new picture of Reagan today! I’m not sure exactly when it was taken but she already looks so much bigger! Her little arms and legs have really filled out and we can finally see her hands. All of the families who have traveled to her orphanage thus far have mentioned they were very impressed with the care the children receive, but it’s reassuring to see for ourselves that our baby seems to be thriving.
The bad news is that there is a problem with our paperwork. Back in May we each had a physical, and later came back with a notary to have medical clearance letters signed and notarized. Unfortunately those letters expire next week and there’s no way they’ll be translated and “logged in” at the Vietnamese Dept of International Adoption before then. In anticipation of this problem we went through the whole process again in November – new exam, new notary, new letters – which is a bit tricky considering Dan and I have different doctors, neither of them have a notary in the building, each require a real appointment to sign the letters, and traveling notaries are expensive! But we got it all done and sent in to the Secretary of State in early December. They should have been returned by now, so our agency checked into it and determined that the letters would be rejected because our notary neglected to fill in the dates properly! They probably won’t be able to start processing the rest of our dossier until those letters are fixed, authenticated by the Secretary of State of California (which, by the way, is apparently the worst one of the 50 to work with), consularized by the Vietnamese consulate in San Fransisco, approved by our agency in Tulsa, and then finally forwarded to Vietnam. When all is said and done, this will probably set us back at least two weeks.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Here's another attempt to post a picture of our precious baby girl. I know it's so small and so grainy but it's the only one we have. I thought that perhaps if I cropped it down to just her face you could get a better idea what she looks like. Our agency is going to try to get another picture for us soon, but their offices in Vietnam are quite some distance from her orphanage so I imagine the updates will be few and far between. We'll take what we can get! The funny thing is, for the millions of times I know I will examine this photo between now and the day we finally hold her in our arms, she won't look like this at all by the time that day comes. I will just treasure every piece I can collect from her life before she's finally ours and guard each one carefully until I can pass them on to her someday.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
So all that to say, though we're overwhelmingly grateful for this early Christmas gift, we won't get to enjoy her fully until at least Easter! In the meantime please pray with us that everything will go smoothly throughout this process and that we'll see our girl sooner rather than later.
After a referral of a child has been accepted and the family has returned the paperwork to Dillon, we will prepare the acceptance documents to be sent to Vietnam. The following is an outline of what occurs once your paperwork arrives in Vietnam:
Your dossier and acceptance papers are sent to Ho Chi Minh City to our attorney, Thomas. When Thomas receives your dossier, he will forward it to a translator. The translation process can take 1-3 weeks.
After your dossier has completed the translation process, Thomas will send it to the
International Adoption Department (IAD) in Ha Noi. The IAD will review your dossier, and, if they are satisfied with all the documents, they will give your dossier a log-in date. You can estimate you will travel within 3-6 months of this log-in date.
After the IAD has given your dossier a log-in date, they will send a letter to your child’s province requesting that the Local Justice Department begin compiling your child’s legal documents, which is also called the child’s dossier. This process can take up to 30 business days.
Once the IAD in Ha Noi receives your child’s dossier, they will review your child’s dossier and your dossier. After they are satisfied with all the dossier documents, they will forward your family's dossier and the child's dossier back to your child’s Local Justice Department in your child’s province.
When the Local Justice Department in your child’s province receives your dossier and your child’s dossier, they will forward the dossier documents to the People’s Committee and then the People’s Committee will set a date and time for the Giving and Receiving Ceremony.
Families should have approximately two weeks notice before travel.
Please remember that due to this being a new and evolving program, the process and timeframes outlined above can change without notice.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
It’s still technically Thanksgiving weekend – at least for another fifteen minutes – so I’ll add to my blog a list of a few things I’m thankful for…
I’m thankful for a church that preaches the Truth. For preachers there who are faithful to call me to obedience, even when I’m not all that willing to hear it. For Gus, who reminded me today that I can’t really have fellowship with God unless I’m routinely confessing my sin.
I’m thankful to live in a place where Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean bundling up from head to toe. Where we can enjoy a sunny day at the park in shorts and t-shirts when most of the rest of the country is dealing with snow.
I’m thankful for Christmas decorations, which thanks to a compromise involving artificial trees and real wreaths, allows me to enjoy them from this Friday until the end of December. For a husband who indulges my love of all things Christmas by carefully hanging lights from every peak and corner of our home. Who then also remembers to turn them on and off each night.
I’m thankful for a boy and a girl who truly love their mama, and who are now old enough to say so without solicitation. Who make me laugh each and every day – even when they’re in trouble!
I’m thankful for a little girl very far away who someday will love us as much as we already love her. For a God Who is present “everywhere that man can be,” including the orphanage where she’s waiting for us.
I’m thankful for my big truck that faithfully shuttles us wherever we need to go. For Costco, Target and Baja Fresh, where it takes us most frequently.
I’m thankful for free babysitting in the form of grandparents, aunts and uncles, all within a 10 minute drive. For the lessons our kiddos learn from each of them, and the deficiencies in our parenting that those lessons help fill.
I’m thankful for nice bed-sheets, non-fat milk, tangerines, denim, Coke Zero, digital cameras, prayer, e-mail, Tylenol, my wedding, bean and cheese burritos, Romans, Tivo, and a million other things big and small that together make me one of the most blessed of women.
None of these things do I deserve, and yet most of them I take for granted. Even on Thursday I was so busy with Thanksgiving that I neglected to really give thanks. So, this little list is a case of “better late than never.”
Saturday, November 18, 2006
One of these days we'll have two little girls in this girly little room, so Alyssa got a new "step bed" for her birthday. The kiddos spent the night at grandma and grandpa's last night so Dan and I were up late (even for us!) painting and reconfiguring her closet, assembling the beds, and then putting it all back together so we could suprize her with it this morning. Her reaction was every bit as precious as we hoped, and she and Parker spent all day climbing up and around the new "toy." We knew that it was a hit when she asked to take her nap 2 1/2 hours before her normal nap time! Now all we need is another little girl body to fill the 2nd bunk!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I thought I'd also include a couple pictures of another trip to the Magic Kingdom we took in September, if for no other reason than to make our friend Pecadillo (www.pecadillo.blogspot.com) jealous. Our dear friends J~ and L~ were able to get us into Club 33, an exclusive private club stashed away above New Orleans Square. You'd never know it's there except for the unassuming door pictured below. The food was incredible - to rival any fancy restaurant I've ever been too - and the service, well I'll just say that we were there for 3 hours and were never in need of anything. It's the only place in Disneyland where you can order alcohol, which almost prompted me to order a glass of wine, but I much prefer grape juice! We also had a great view of the Fantasmic fireworks show on the little balcony adjacent to our table. On top of all of that though, the highlight was just being somewhere that most people don't get to go and where we may never be able to go again.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
We waited for Dan at miles 16 and 20... He was pretty glad to see his little cheering section! The kids provided much need encouragment and ran with him for a while. Of course, they're convinced that they ran a marathon too!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
One of these days I promise I'm actually going to write something again, but for now, aren't Dorothy and the King of the Forrest adorable? We had such a great time Tuesday night trick-or-treating at our neighbors and playing the in bounce house and box city at Grace Baptist's Fall Festival. Since then the kids have sorted, counted and traded their candy at least 2 dozen times. They were also pretty excited that Gaga Margie (my mom) showed up as Glinda and that baby Linclon transformed into a scarecrow.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Sunday we celebrated our beloved church’s 50th anniversary (www.gracechurch.org), and what a celebration it was! The morning service was devoted to great music, a video recounting the church’s history, a tribute to the remaining 6 founding members (who still are a precious part of our fellowship and hard at work for the kingdom), and a time to honor our 61 missionary families (all of which had been flown home for the occasion, as well as their bi-annual conference). But the best part of the day was the evening service. We don’t usually make it back at night, but we were inspired to make more of an effort from now on. It seems that the best musicians to ever be members of our congregation were there to bless us with magnificent, God-honoring worship. The better part of our time was spent praising in song the God who has made our church what it is. At one point, standing there, I honestly wished that God call us all home so we could begin an eternity of praising Him. I imagine that in heaven we’ll all sing with voices like Phil Webb and Diane Brown, complete with the full orchestra and choir – even Dan! Won’t it be wonderful to be free of our propensity to sin and totally preoccupied with the beauty of our Savior? I truly was sad to see the service end.
We also enjoyed another sweet film interviewing our pastor, his wife and their 4 grown children (who are all still members of our congregation), where they recounted their best memories of their 37 years among us. In a church our size, most of us are pastored by the leader of our fellowship groups more than by John MacArthur, so it was fun to see the more personal insights. My favorite was a conversation recounted by John: when his son Mark was in junior high, he approached his dad with this comment: “Dad, when you’re up in that pulpit you’re really something special, but the rest of the time, you’re not that special.” Of course, we love our Bible-teacher, but he’s just a normal guy who God has specially equipped for ministry.
Afterwards we enjoyed a 50’s-themed social on the patio (yes, in southern California it’s still warm enough for an outdoor evening event) complete with a classic car, old-fashioned candy, Dodger dogs, Coke in glass bottles and Creamsicles. The only unfortunate part (though it’s a blessing too) was that there were so many people you couldn’t fully appreciate the hard work that went into it. But thank you anyway to Lauren, Shannon, Shirley, and countless others! I noticed!
So all that to say, we have a great church and we had a great time celebrating our history. But even greater will be the day that the True Church is gathered together to forever celebrate His story - the story of His goodness and our redemption!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
On Thursday we received a letter from our adoption agency that indicated we might not know who our Savannah is for quite some time. They originally said we could expect to wait 1-3 months for a referral (adoption-ese for matching us with a child). However, our agency now expects that it could be as long as 6-9 months, with another 3-6 months on top of that before we can travel. So, my dreams of having her home before Alyssa’s birthday in November are definitely gone – we’ll be lucky to have her home by Parker’s birthday in June! Of course all of this is just a guess. Since Vietnam has only recently re-opened adoptions with the U.S., even our agency is in the dark about when referrals will be coming in. I’m hoping they are dead wrong and that they’ll get at least a few babies soon. We’re 3rd on the list for a girl, one of which is waiting for a baby under 12 months, so if two toddler girls became available we’d presumably get one. Needless to say I’m hopeful, but more than a little bummed. All of this just highlights one of the things I’ve found to be most difficult about this process: the total lack of control. At least when you’re pregnant you can eat right, see your doctor, see the baby through ultrasounds, take your vitamins, etc. Even when you’re trying to get pregnant you can take your temperature, monitor your body’s signs, and all the other fun things that those of you who have experienced even temporary infertility can relate to. But with adoption, once all of your paperwork is complete, it’s entirely in someone else’s hands. Even worse, those hands are often attached to the arms of our woefully inefficient government or a foreign, communist government. Now, I don’t intend to say that I have actually had any more control over the safe arrival of my two biological kids. I just felt like I had more control. So in that way it is good for me to be forced to more consciously depend on God. It’s also God’s great providence that I studied Romans all summer. In chapter 13 verse 1 He reminds us that there is “no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). God can certainly orchestrate all of the issues standing between us and our daughter, and He will bring her to us in His perfect time. He’s promised in Psalm 84:11 that “no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” So the fact that Savannah is not home yet means that her presence is not the best thing for us right now. I’m just hoping and praying that she will be the best thing for us SOON!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Have I mentioned how spoiled we are?
Some dear friends have a beautiful ski boat they insist we use with them far more often than we deserve. This weekend we all went up to the Sacramento River Deltas, a pretty remarkable maze of waterways, some of which are large enough for ocean-going vessels (see the tanker in the background). We had great weather, even better water, and a lot of fun. As you can see, I'm finally getting a little more comfortable on a single ski. The best part was that Dan couldn't even get up on one! He'll kill me for mentioning that, but you must understand that I am NOT athletic and he most definitely IS... so this is a major victory! In his defense, he has only wakeboarded the last few summers, and it is a totally different feel, but it's still fun to gloat. The kids were just angels. We truly abused them, cutting out all but the shortest of naps and keeping them up quite late, but they seem to love the boat too. They never fall asleep on us anymore, so it was a real treat to have them cuddle on us so much. This will probably be the last trip of the season, but then we do have wetsuits, so who knows?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
I was planning on writing tonight about cute my new nephew is and how much my children adore him. But then I saw this picture on the website of a woman from our agency who is in Vietnam right now picking up her second daughter. This is the bed little Ella slept in up until last night. The new parents report that most of the children’s heads are completely flat in the back. They sleep with no padding, no blankets, no pillows, no teddy bears. There are no doors and no glass in the windows. There is no air conditioning and no real protection from the elements. Some of the kids were covered with bites from a recent flying ant infestation. Now, I must also say that the parents report that the children appear to be relatively healthy and well-loved. In fact, one has complained that their daughter was quite spoiled from being held almost constantly by either her caretaker or one of the teenagers in the orphanage. From the pictures I’ve seen, the kids look happy. It’s actually quite normal for those who are adopted to grieve the loss of their “home” and nannies. But it truly is heartbreaking for me to see how much our daughter is doing without. Of course, material possessions are not everything, but the lack thereof is even more evidence of how little anyone cares for these precious lives. I can only imagine how difficult it will be to take only one. Unfortunately, they won’t let us take more than one unless they’re twins (which I’m still praying for!). So consider this my plea to each of you, my readers. Adoption is certainly not easy - I personally think it’s much more difficult than pregnancy/labor/all of that – but God has called every believer to care for the fatherless. The sheer volume of instruction in Scripture regarding their plight, as well as His model of the institution of adoption when He called us His children (see Ephesians 1: 4-5), ought to be enough to convince us that we have to do something. In my mind, it’s comparable to our responsibilities regarding foreign missions: go, or support those that do. Okay, please don’t take this as a solicitation for donations to our cause – God has graciously provided for the financial aspect of our adoption – but there are families who want to adopt, but who simply can’t swing the fees. There are organizations out there that would turn your donation into a grant for a Christian adoptive family in need. Even better though: consider adopting a child yourself. Already I can tell you, it’s worth it! We get to be a part of God’s plan, but we also will soon (I hope!) get to enjoy the blessing of the love of a sweet little girl. It’s not just about her you know =). So think about it. Pray about it. Don’t just dismiss this as something for other people. Maybe a little Asian baby, or African baby, or Eastern European baby is in God’s plan for you too!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A few thoughts from Bible Study:
- A song that really touched me:
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love, and watch me rise again
Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am, I am yours…
I’m not sure who wrote it, or where to give the credit, but I’ve quickly grown to love it. It has a great melody, but the best part for me is the last line of the chorus: “I am Yours.” I’ve often thought about belonging to God in the sense that I am His servant and I owe Him my life. While that is true, this song really emphasizes God’s gracious choice of me as the object of His affection. It actually reminded me of how I felt before I met and fell in love with Dan: I wanted to be loved in spite of my faults. Of course Dan has and does do that, but God does it perfectly! He knows my deficiencies even better than Danny does, and each of them is an assault on His holy character, yet He still loves me. Ephesians 1: 4 says “He choose [me] in Him before the foundation of the world, that [I] should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (emphasis mine). In the same way, God chose Israel. Deuteronomy 7:7-8a explains “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples, but because the LORD loves you”. What a gracious and loving God we serve!
- A verse that jumped out: Deuteronomy 10:18 “He administers justice for the fatherless…” I think maybe only an adoptive mom could be brought nearly to tears at this passage. God knew I would need to be reminded that He is in control of this adoption process. Today I spoke with Jynger, the program director at our agency, and she confirmed that we’re not any closer to being matched with a child than we were last month. There are still two families in front of us who are waiting for a girl – though one of them has requested a baby under 12 months, so we would be second in line for an older baby. The other one has already been waiting 3 months, so I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that we could be waiting longer than the original 1-3 month quote. How great it is to know, though, that God cares for our orphan even more than we do. He knows who she is, where she is, who’s feeding her, changing her diapers, giving her hugs. He’ll bring her to us at exactly the right time, and until then, will literally administer the justice that stand between us.
- A student who always makes me laugh: our friend Shannon. She’s writing a book. Who knows if it will ever actually be published, but the title is priceless. I’ll share it here… hopefully she won’t mind. “99 Reasons Not to Go In the Ocean: the ocean is a beautiful and powerful thing, but so are volcanoes – that doesn’t mean you should go in them” She’s considering a second sub-title, which I also think is hilarious “Why would you keep going in something that’s just trying to throw you out?”
Friday, September 01, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Lincoln was born last night to my sister, Sarah, and brother-in-law, Brian. He is so sweet, so adorable, and such a red-head! We weren't altogther suprized by the color, but shocked at the volume. While not quite like my two, who came out with loads of dark hair, his head really is covered with soft orange fuzz. Sarah is doing well too, and we're having such fun cuddling this healthy little one. Alyssa, as you can see, was ready to help do surgery. For weeks now she's been busy packing a diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys, changing pad, keys, candy - you name it - to assist with child care as needed. Of course, when it actually came time to change Lincoln's first diaper, the idea proved to be more alluring than the act!
Parker was also a very excited cousin. All of the adults there waiting for the opportunity to hold the new one, had their arms nearly worn off holding the older kids up to see through the window. Parker spent all morning saying "see Lincoln!" and practicing gentle kisses. I think he likes the idea of being the big guy.
It was especially precious to watch Brian fall instantly in-love with his son.
I, of course, am enamored too. Not only with my precious nephew, but with my amazing God who skillfully crafts these little people in ways that not even the most brilliant scientists can understand. I'm baffled by the way my body works and simply stunned by the way those same functions happen in miniature and so shortly after birth. What a shock to leave the comfort and safety of a mother's body, and then to so quickly adapt to light, air, noise, hunger, pain, touch. Only God's mercy and grace can explain the fact that life happens at all. Lord, "I will praise You, for I (and Lincoln!) am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).